Four Cascades volleyball players voted to all-PACWEST teams

Olivia Heinen, Nick Bruce, Amanda Matsui and Kim Bauder were honoured by PACWEST on Wednesday.

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s and women’s volleyball teams collected a series of accolades on Wednesday as the PACWEST conference announced its 2017-18 award winners.

The Cascades women’s program saw Amanda Matsui (first team) and Kim Bauder (second team) earn spots on the PACWEST all-star teams, and Matsui and Olivia Heinen were voted to the all-rookie team.

On the men’s side, UFV’s Nick Bruce was recognized for his career year with a first-team all-star nod.

The individual accolades come in advance of the Cascades’ most important team pursuit of the season, as they host the PACWEST men’s and women’s volleyball championships at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre. The tournament launches Thursday with games starting at 1 p.m. The Cascades women take the court at 6 p.m. for a quarter-final clash with the College of the Rockies Avalanche, followed by the UFV men taking on the Douglas Royals at 8 p.m. A complete tournament schedule can be found here.

• Matsui, a first-year Cascade from Port Coquitlam, B.C., had a spectacular campaign after redshirting last season following knee surgery. The left side finished third in the PACWEST in total offensive stats, racking up 3.90 points per set, and was among just three players to rank in the top 10 in total offence, kills (3.07/set, fifth), aces (0.64/set, first) and digs (2.88/set, 10th).

“Any time that a rookie gets on that first all-star team, it’s a huge accomplishment,” UFV women’s head coach Mike Gilray said of Matsui. “For her to do it after a year of not playing volleyball is amazing. It’s hard to get back to that elite level after a major knee injury.”

• Bauder, a Langley, B.C. product in her fourth year of eligibility, served as the Cascades’ captain this season. Matsui’s counterpart at left side, she showcased a similar all-around skillset, ranking in the PACWEST’s top 10 in total offence (3.15 points/set, 10th), kills (2.57/set, 10th), aces (0.38/set, sixth) and digs (3.26/set, seventh).

“Kim has been our team captain, and to be able to do what she’s done through injury this season has been unbelievable,” Gilray enthused. “To put up the numbers she has is amazing. She’s a leader for us, every day.”

• It speaks to how highly opposing coaches view Heinen that she was voted to the all-rookie team despite missing six games – a quarter of the season – due to injury. The Langley product averaged 9.4 assists per set to finish second in PACWEST in that department.

“For a first-year to be a starting setter in our league is outstanding,” Gilray said. “We have a very balanced offence because she has the ability to run all areas of the court. It’s also been exciting to get to watch her grow and develop in other areas on the court, particularly her defence and blocking. She’s been a huge addition for us.”

• Bruce’s fifth and final season with the Cascades has been of the break-out variety. The left side from Surrey has been a dynamic offensive presence, finishing seventh in the league in both kills (3.28/set) and total offence (3.93/set). He’s also among the leaders in digs (2.00/set, 10th) and blocks (0.44/set, 14th).

“He’s had a career year,” observed UFV men’s head coach Kyle Donen. “He’s been our best player from Day 1, and his engine hasn’t really stopped since the season started. I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished this year – not just the numbers but what he’s meant to the team on and off the floor. He’s become the leader we needed.”

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